Pride and Prejudice: A Film Review
About The Film
This particular version of "Pride and Prejudice", based on Jane Austen's novel of the same name, was directed by Joe Wright, produced by Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster, and Jane Frazer, and starred Keira Knightley, Talulah Riley, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Carey Mulligan, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Brenda Blethyn, Claudie Blakley, Simon Woods, Kelly Reilly, and Matthew Macfadyen. This film was a Focus Features and Universal Pictures presentation, produced by Working Title Films, in association with StudioCanal and Scion Films, and was released in 2005. It also received 4 Oscar nominations.
"Pride and Prejudice" is the story of a georgian-period English family whose lives are profoundly affected by the arrival of a wealthy young man, his sister, and his even wealthier best friend. Its focus is on the second eldest of five daughters, Elizabeth, as her family contends with the pressures and expectations of georgian english society and the necessity of seeking an advantageous marriage.
From the very beginning of the film, I was caught up in the characters. I attribute this to how well acted the film was. Everyone in it was awesome. It takes little or no time at all to get a feel for who everyone in the family is. The same can be said for all the other characters as they appear.
For myself, I know that for films of this kind, interaction between the characters is what fuels the experience. And my interests, as far as films in general are concerned, run in other directions. Typically, I find the greatest enjoyment in things like the creativity of the story and how it's told, the time and place in which the film is set, and (as superficial as this may be), the level, quality and application of visual effects, (should the story and setting make them appropriate). But, in this case, the interaction between the characters, to say nothing of the characters themselves, I found to be captivating. Though Elizabeth is the focus, it's easy to get attached to and identify with the other characters. Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth's father, is a patient, pleasant fellow with a mildly sarcastic sense of humor. I liked him instantly. Mrs. Bennet is possessed of a slightly frantic nature, sharing perhaps a little too much in the immaturity of her youngest daughters. Throughout the film, her first and greatest concern is for the advantageous marriage of all her daughters. Jane, the eldest and most beautiful of the Bennet daughters, is of a kind nature, generous in her opinion of others almost to the point of naivete. Mary, next in age after Elizabeth, is a bit pessimistic, and the least social of her sisters. Kitty and Lydia are the two youngest daughters and the least mature of the five. Their only concern is dancing and flirting with young men. Elizabeth herself is pretty much the most level-headed among the Bennet daughters and is possessed of a sharp tongue and a healthy dose of her father's sarcasm.
Elizabeth is possessed of a strong sense of how she thinks things should be. This sense is maintained inspite of how contrary it is to what's accepted. Throughout the film, this sense serves to fuel her distaste for the accepted behaviors prevalent in georgian english society, particularly where men are concerned. The catalyst for the expression of Elizabeth's said disposition is the arrival of Mr. Bingley, his sister Caroline, and his best friend Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Bingley, a rich young bachelor, is a socially awkward fellow, but is unassuming and amiable to all who meet him. He is introduced to the Bennet family and is instantly taken with the eldest daughter, Jane. The attraction is mutual. What develops between Mr. Bingley and Jane begins as a backdrop for what quietly develops between Mr. Bingley's best friend, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth. But it is sidetracked by the intervention of Mr. Bingley's sister, Caroline.
Caroline Bingley is an almost textbook example of the kind of character that you "love to hate". She's almost the embodiment of everything about georgian english society that Elizabeth seems to find worthy of contempt. Despite Caroline Bingley's cordial behavior, Elizabeth seems to take her and her behavior with grain of salt. Personally, I couldn't stand her. Everything about her, that degrading stare, her condescending air and sarcasm, all of it just made my flesh crawl. I spent a lot of time wanting someone to smack her.
As Caroline's interference took over, the quiet contention between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth developed, catalysed by her encounter with Mr. Wickham, a soldier in the militia, with whom, it is discovered, Mr. Darcy has some history.
From the moment Mr. Darcy appears, it is clear that he's someone who sees himself as superior. But it's not so much what I would call a condescending superiority. His pride is more about the family he comes from and what is understood as his station in society. He believes that his disposition is correct because society believes it is correct and that it's what's expected of him given his station. Apart from this, Mr. Darcy shows himself to be a good friend to Mr. Bingley, despite his somewhat unpleasant demeanor. And, despite what she first understands about Mr. Darcy in terms of the history between himself and Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth comes to understand that Mr. Darcy is not what she initially judged him to be. And she learns a little about herself as well.
For anyone who enjoys period romances, I would consider this a "must-see". (And that's saying a lot coming from someone who's into a different genre of film.) In fact, it may even qualify as a "bucket-list" film. Now, I think it should be understood that this recommendation is given from the perspective of not having read Jane Austen's novel. It's made solely on the film's own merits as a film, and not as an reproduction or adaptation of the novel on which it is based. If you haven't seen this film and decide to do so after reading this, it would be great to know what you thought of it. Feel free to share your appraisal (or any other thoughts, for that matter) in the comments.